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Marie Antoinette and Her Son   By: (1814-1873)

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by Louise Muhlbach




It was the 13th of August, 1785. The queen, Marie Antoinette, had at last yielded to the requests and protestations of her dear subjects. She had left her fair Versailles and loved Trianon for one day, and had gone to Paris, in order to exhibit herself and the young prince whom she had borne to the king and the country on the 25th of March, and to receive in the cathedral of Notre Dame the blessing of the clergy and the good wishes of the Parisians.

She had had an enthusiastic reception, this beautiful and much loved queen, Marie Antoinette. She had driven into Paris in an open carriage, in company with her three children, and every one who recognized her had greeted her with a cheerful huzzah, and followed her on the long road to Notre Dame, at whose door the prominent clergy awaited her, the cardinal, Prince Louis de Rohan, at their head, to introduce her to the house of the King of all kings.

Marie Antoinette was alone; only the governess of the children, the Duchess de Polignac, sat opposite her, upon the back seat of the carriage, and by her side the Norman nurse, in her charming variegated district costume, cradling in her arms Louis Charles, the young Duke of Normandy. By her side, in the front part of the carriage, sat her other two children Therese, the princess royal, the first born daughter, and the dauphin Louis, the presumptive heir of the much loved King Louis the Sixteenth. The good king had not accompanied his spouse on this journey to Paris, which she undertook in order to show to her dear, yet curious Parisians that she was completely recovered, and that her children, the children of France, were blossoming for the future like fair buds of hope and peace.

"Go, my dear Antoinette," the king had said to his queen, in his pleasant way and with his good natured smile " go to Paris in order to prepare a pleasure for my good people. Show them our children, and receive from them their thanks for the happiness which you have given to me and to them. I will not go with you, for I wish that you should be the sole recipient of the enthusiasm of the people and their joyful acclamations. I will not share your triumph, but I shall experience it in double measure if you enjoy it alone. Go, therefore, my beloved Antoinette, and rejoice in this happy hour."

Marie Antoinette did go, and she did rejoice in the happiness of the hour. "While riding through Paris, hundreds recognized her, hundreds hailed her with loud acclamations. As she left the cathedral of Notre Dame, in order to ascend into the carriage again with her children and their governess, one would be tempted to think that the whole square in front of the church had been changed into a dark, tumultuous sea, which dashed its raging black waves into all the streets debouching on the square, and was filling all Paris with its roar, its swell, its thunder roll. Yes, all Paris was there, in order to look upon Marie Antoinette, who, at this hour, was not the queen, but the fair woman; the happy mother who, with the pride of the mother of the Gracchi, desired no other protection and no other companionship than that of her two sons; who, her hand resting upon the shoulder of her daughter, needed no other maid of honor to appear before the people in all the splendor and all the dignity of the Queen of France and the true mother.

Yes, all Paris was there in order to greet the queen, the woman, and the mother, and out of thousands upon thousands of throats there sounded forth the loud ringing shout, "Long live the queen! Long live Marie Antoinette! Long live the fair mother and the fair children of France!"

Marie Antoinette felt herself deeply moved by these shouts. The sight of the faces animated with joy, of the flashing eyes, and the intoxicated peals of laughter, kindled her heart, drove the blood to her cheeks, and made her countenance beam with joy, and her eyes glisten with delight... Continue reading book >>

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